Aristotle on the Moral Psychology of Persuasion

Christof Rapp

in The Oxford Handbook of Aristotle

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780195187489
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Aristotle on the Moral Psychology of Persuasion

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  • Classical Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Mind



This article discusses some core theorems of Aristotle's account of persuasion as it is set out in the Rhetoric. It is the declared ambition of Rhetoric I and II to develop a technê, or art, of rhetoric, and the central tool of this technê is, as it were, the introduction of three technical means of persuasion: êthos, pathos, and logos. Probably the best point to start with is two claims that Aristotle eventually makes in the course of his work on rhetoric, the first of which consists in saying that proofs and arguments are central to persuasion. The second claim states that proofs and arguments, however central and important they may be, are not sufficient to persuade. The article examines the relation between these two claims in order to elucidate certain assumptions that Aristotle seems to make concerning the moral psychology of persuasion.

Keywords: Aristotle; rhetoric; moral psychology; persuasion; êthos; pathos; logos; proofs; arguments

Article.  11913 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Classical Philosophy ; Philosophy of Mind

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